West Sussex Trading Standards’ Service and West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service are warning the public about the dangers of children’s fancy dress costumes getting too close to naked flames this week.
The warning comes after a child’s ‘Devil’s’ dress, which officers from trading standards bought and tested as part of Halloween safety work, failed to meet fire safety requirements of the toy safety standard.
A number of costumes were initially tested with the help of West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service earlier this year and any that caused concern had a second item sent to a test laboratory.
And, as the festive season gets underway and children across the county want to celebrate by dressing up, trading standards officers will be testing more costumes to make sure they are safe.
Children’s’ costumes have to meet a standard that states if it is set alight, the flames must not spread faster than 30mm per second.
This is to ensure that there is time to remove the dress or extinguish the flames before the child can be seriously injured.
Peter Aston, trading standards team manager at West Sussex County Council, said: “In this case, the importer had the dresses tested before they went on the market and they passed, so we are working closely with them to see what may have happened to cause this dress to fail our safety tests.”
With Christmas coming, Trading Standards will be testing a further range of children’s costumes.
“Our key message for the festive season is keep all children’s costumes and clothing away from fire,” said Peter.
“But as parents we all know accidents can happen and in that case the risks can be minimised by buying from reputable sources. If you’re tempted by an unrealistically cheap branded costume for example, it could well be a counterfeit and there is every likelihood it would burn quickly if it came into contact with a flame.”
Community Fire Safety Officer for West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, Jackie Boyle, added: “People love dressing up at Christmas, especially children, but swingy dresses or flowing costumes can easily brush by a naked flame and potentially catch fire. We want people to enjoy their festive celebrations safely so just take care to keep lit candles well away from children and pets and ensure you extinguish them if you are leaving the room or going out.
“In the event of a fire involving your clothing it’s important to remember to ‘stop, drop and roll’. Don’t run around, this will fan the flames, instead lie down and roll around. This smothers the flames and makes it harder for the fire to spread.”
If you think you might have bought an unsafe children’s costume or see any cheap branded or suspected counterfeit costumes for sale, please let trading standards know by calling 03454 040506 or report online at www.westsusex.gov.uk/tsreport